When Tim Gore was in grammar school, he would ride his bike from his home to the Opelika Parks and Recreation Center for day camps and to play with friends in the creek winding through the park. Being at the rec center was his favorite thing to do. His love of the outdoors, sports and people lead him to a career at the Opelika Recreation Center, the Sportsplex and now at the Auburn University Recreation and Wellness Center, where he is continuing his love of working with young people and serving others. Tim feels he had an excellent example to follow in his mother, Louise Gore, who was active in church and the Pilot Club of Opelika. When Tim was 11 years old, his father died suddenly of a heart attack. His mother raised Tim and his two sisters. His uncle, Lewis Cooper, became a second father to him.
At Opelika High School, Tim played basketball and tennis and was also in the band. After graduating, he received a basketball scholarship to Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City. He then transferred to Auburn University, majoring in recreation administration and was part of the Auburn marching band. While attending Auburn, Tim worked part-time at the Opelika Recreation Center, and after graduating began working full time. “I loved it,” Tim says. “Working in recreation is a service-oriented profession, being with people and trying to meet the needs of those around you. “I had great mentors with Bill Calhoun, the person who hired me, giving me the opportunity to get in recreation,” Tim adds. “It is not a job when it is fun. If you like what you do, you get paid to play, and I certainly like what I do. “Mr. Calhoun told me one time that you don’t get paid a lot in recreation, but it is rewarding. He said one day you are going to get a ‘paycheck.’”
After Tim worked at the center a while, one of his former employees stopped by to tell him how much she appreciated him teaching her to be a lifeguard. She had pulled a young girl out of the pool who was so thankful to her for saving her life. “She said she would not have been able to do that without me teaching her,” Tim adds. “After she left, Mr. Calhoun stuck his head in my office and said, ‘paycheck.’” When Tim went to work at the Opelika center, he was told there were three programs they wanted him to start: an event Friday nights for junior high students, a summer concert series in the park and soccer. Friday Night Drop-Ins for junior high students became popular and is still going on. Soccer has continued to grow and now has 700 students in the program.
The Summer Swing concert series has been listed in the South’s Top 20 Summer Events. Tim remembers how difficult it was to get the series going since there wasn’t much funding before the Chamber became involved. The first year Troy State University presented a concert, and MUSE entertained at the park. Every summer hundreds of children took swimming lessons at the center, and nearly all considered Tim their friend. He was known for his big smile and warm welcome to everyone attending the center.
Tim met his wife Betsy when she became the swim team coach. They have been married nearly 30 years and have two married daughters, Mary Louise Kennedy and Anna Sayers. After 20 years at the Opelika Recreation Center, Tim and Betsy took a break and became one of the four owners of the Cottage Walk. Betsy operated Victory Engraving, Mary Skinner and Liz McCollum ran Picket Fence, while Tim and Susie Hamlet owned Victory Design. These four families also owned the Cottage Café, all housed in the same building in downtown Opelika.
After the businesses sold, Tim then had the opportunity to return to the Opelika Parks and Recreation and worked under the leadership of Bill Harrelson, Sam Bailey and Tommy Agee at the Sportsplex. He shared an office with fellow Assistant Director Reid Pope. In the summer of 2012, a friend called Tim to tell him about a position at the new Auburn University Recreation and Wellness Center. While Tim was excited about the prospect, he didn’t know anything about campus recreation. He took a day off from work and left at 4:30 that morning to visit centers at other colleges. He drove to Athens, Ga. to visit the recreation and wellness center on the University of Georgia’s campus. On the way back, he stopped at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and UAB in Birmingham to observe the facility at each of those campuses. “While I was blown away with what I saw,” Tim says, “Jennifer Jarvis, executive director of the Auburn facility, assured me that I hadn’t seen anything yet. She was right.”
Tim is the assistant director of memberships at the Auburn University Recreation and Wellness Center. Every Auburn University student is a member of the Center through fees included in their tuition. Auburn University faculty/staff and their spouses also have the opportunity to purchase facility memberships. “Our department’s goal is to have Auburn the healthiest campus in the nation,” Tim says. “When I get here in the mornings,” Tim says, “I sit in my truck, say a prayer and hope I can have an impact on someone’s life today. When I walk in the building, I pinch myself that I get to work here. Once again, it is not a job when you love it.” Since working at the facility, he feels he has received many “paychecks” from students.
In his free time, Tim enjoys going to the Auburn University Regional Airport and watching aircraft take off and land, especially on game weekends. When he was a child, his father would take him to watch the planes, and Tim took his daughters. Sometimes they would take a picnic and sit on the grass. The girls would do cartwheels and hand stands waiting to watch a plane land. Once in a while someone would ask them to go fly with them. Tim now watches from the second level of the terminal. He finds it incredible seeing the jets coming in for football games. During football season, his favorite place to be is on his back porch with a fire going. He will cook on the grill while watching the games.
On Sunday mornings, Tim is involved in Helping Hands at the First Baptist Church of Opelika. For the past 20 years he has served as a valet parking attendant for anyone who needs physical help or unloading refreshments. “Opelika is a great place to live,” Tim says. “Being able to have a great wife, great daughters and sons-in-law, I feel very blessed.” The Opelika and Auburn community have been blessed by Tim’s service-oriented work, his love of people and a desire to help others.
An award winning journalist, Ann Cipperly has been writing features, as well as food, travel and restaurant articles for East Alabama Living since 2004. She is a former newspaper lifestyle and food editor and currently writes features and a food column for the Opelika Observer. Ann is a native Opelikan.